The first half of the MLB season is in the books and as teams get to enjoy a little extra time off during the All-Star Break, we look ahead to the second half of the season.
There will be plenty of intrigue and surprising moments in the coming months. An injury will cripple a contender’s title hopes, a big acquisition at the trade deadline will vault a team into contention and the storylines will only get more wild from there.
It all makes for the best stretch in baseball a fan could ask for. With all of the moves, potential injuries and major shakeups in the standings at play, it leads to fun bold predictions.
Here are 10 bold predictions for the second half of the season.
Tim Tebow is called up in September and hits a home run
While it may still be purely a marketing strategy, Tebow has earned a promotion from Double-A Binghamton. After slashing .317/.344/.425 since June 2, it’s only a matter of time before he is called up to Triple-A Las Vegas.
Once there, Tebow will spend a few weeks drawing a soldout crowd to every game and then make his MLB debut in September when rosters expand and the Mets can look to boost attendance for a sub-.500 team.
This isn’t to say that Tebow will prove himself to be a MLB-caliber player during his stint in New York. But he does have enough raw power to hit one over the fence during a four-game series against the Miami Marlins.
Miami won’t be playing for anything, their pitching is a mess and it will be the perfect opportunity for a former Florida football star to hit his first MLB home run in New York City.
Seattle Mariners collapse in second half, playoff drought continues
What is taking place in Seattle this season is simply incredible. They sit 19 games over .500 despite losing Robinson Cano to an 80-game suspension and with a weak rotation outside of James Paxton.
It’s an incredible story and one that would be made even greater if the Mariners can snap their 16-year postseason drought. Unfortunately, this story also has the vibes of one with a heartbreaking ending.
Seattle will lose ground on the Houston Astros in the AL West, which will lead to a two-team battle between Seattle and the Oakland Athletics for the final wildcard spot. While the Mariners hold a three-game advantage at the break, Oakland has a 26-run advantage in run differential.
The Mariners have won 26 of 58 games this season by a lone run, a number indicative of incoming regression. As Oakland’s rotation gets healthy and regression catches up to Seattle, the Mariners could find themselves outside of the playoffs once again.
Bryce Harper has a monster second half
Harper’s performance during the first half of the season certainly wasn’t ideal. Despite his .214 batting average, he still made it into the All-Star Game and ultimately won the Home Run Derby in front of thousands of fans in Washington D.C.
It could be just the catalyst the 25-year-old needs for a resurgence in the second half. He knows a postseason spot and the potential for record-breaking earnings are on the line and he should be able to focus back on the price once again.
This is a player fully capable of posting a 1.000-plus OPS with 20-plus home runs in the final months of the season. If he can return to his MVP-caliber form, Harper can push Washington back into the playoff picture and show teams he is worth a historic contract this offseason.
Mike Trout loses MVP award to Mookie Betts because of team record
The race between Betts and Trout for the American League’s MVP award should come down to the last day. Unfortunately, the race may be decided by a factor that is out of their control.
As Boston sits atop the standings with 68 wins, the Angels struggle to stay afloat with a .500 record. Boston has a better lineup, hitter-friendly ballpark and a much stronger rotation. Meanwhile, the Angels have been decimated by injuries.
What Trout is doing under the circumstances makes him a better player and more valuable than Betts. Unfortunately for him, his team’s record will cost him his third MVP award.
Detroit Tigers trade Michael Fulmer and Nicholas Castellanos
As Detroit continues to plummet towards the bottom of the standings, its front office faces an important crossroads with its future. It can keep Fulmer and Castellanos and try and hope it can be competitive next year or trade the duo and further stock the farm system.
In the end, the Tigers go for the long-term route and take advantage of a market that lacks impact players under team control. Detroit can go to teams like the New York Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks and Philadelphia Phillies.
While moving both will cost the Tigers significantly for the next two seasons, it should further strengthen their farm system and provide them with an extremely bright future in the coming years.
Baltimore Orioles finish with less than 40 wins
Manny Machado is gone, relievers Brad Brach and Zach Britton could soon follow. As a result, Baltimore has put itself in position for a chance to become part of history.
A shaky bullpen with one of the league’s worst lineups and a thin rotation, it has all the makings of a team that will struggle to achieve double-digit wins in the second half. The Orioles sit at 28 wins at the All-Star Break and need 12 wins to even reach 40.
If they fall short, Baltimore will become just the third team in the modern era with fewer than 40 wins and the first to accomplish the feat since the 1935 Boston Braves.
Max Scherzer wins NL’s MVP and Cy Young award
A second-half turnaround by Washington would not only aid Harper’s market this offseason but it could also vault Scherzer into the front of the MVP race.
The 33-year-old finished a brilliant performance in the All-Star Game and will look to carry over that success over. He remains one of the game’s best strikeout artists and is on pace for 300-plus strikeouts, 20-plus wins and a sub-1.00 WHIP.
It should be more than enough for him to win his fourth Cy Young award and could help him win his first MVP award. With the hardware earned in his career, Scherzer’s first-ballot induction into the Hall of Fame will be a guarantee.
Oakland Athletics make playoffs with the lowest payroll in baseball
The Athletics entered the season with the lowest payroll in all of baseball. It was no surprise when everyone set their expectations low. Instead, the A’s have all seemed to click and become one of the most underrated teams in the league.
Oakland has overcome numerous injuries to its rotation, but now the group is coming back together. They entered the break 10th in runs scored (449), OPS (.738) and 16th in ERA (4.01) despite the hiccups.
The Athletics will certainly look to add some talent before the trade deadline and could quietly overtake the Mariners for the second wild-card spot in the AL. If that happens, given Oakland’s payroll, it will be an incredible accomplishment.
Atlanta Braves Make it to the NLCS
The Braves have enjoyed an unexpected breakout 2018 season. And while plenty went well for them in the first half, there’s really even greater room for improvement.
Atlanta is a playoff team. It will all come down to how far it can go in the postseason. Fortunately, Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb make for an excellent 1-2 combo and Julio Teheran is capable of throwing a gem. More importantly, Atlanta has a plethora of talent in the farm system that will allow it to make a big move.
Houston Astros repeat as World Series champions
The defending champions are already better than they were last season and the team is still looking to make improvements. The trio of Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton would give Houston the best playoff rotation in baseball.
The New York Yankees were the last team to repeat as World Series champs when they won three consecutive titles from 1998-2000. If Houston adds a high-end reliever like Raisel Iglesias or Brad Hand or trades for a catcher, this team is nearly perfect.
The best rotation in baseball, an elite bullpen and one of the game’s most productive lineups. Houston has everything it needs, including the experience, to get it done in the postseason. While they will have a target on their back, they will overcome it and win back-to-back titles.